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SEI’s Brett Williams on future-proofing wealth management systems

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Wealth management firms face significant challenges when trying to keep pace with both technology development and regulation, explains Brett Williams, Managing Director, UK Private Banking at SEI. 

Wealth management firms face significant challenges when trying to keep pace with both technology development and regulation, explains Brett Williams, Managing Director, UK Private Banking at SEI. 

“There are more opportunities than ever, but maximising those opportunities is risky and expensive,” he says. “Wealth managers are under increasing pressure to offer technology-driven efficiency and superior user experiences, while also keeping pace with the increasing regulation.”

He cites MiFID 2 as a huge undertaking for wealth management firms, particularly in the case of costs and charges. “Even the biggest firms have found it a challenge to do that themselves.” The FCA has specifically flagged this as an area of concern because firms need to interpret costs and charges in order to deliver clear information directly to investment clients. 

“Keeping pace around web services is also a challenge,” he says. “While we have a very sophisticated end to end proposition, it may be that firms want to integrate our wealth management platform; The SEI Wealth Platform (SWP) with their own technology or other capabilities. 

“The flexible nature of all SEI’s platforms mean I believe that integration has increasingly become an opportunity for us and for our clients.  However, wealth management firms need to ensure they understand who they are working with when outsourcing, and the nature and flexibility of their proposition,” he says.  

SWP supports trading and transactions on 130 stock exchanges in 41 countries and 43 currencies, through the use of straight-through processing and a single operating infrastructure environment. The platform aims to reduce manual procedures, mitigate friction in the portfolio management process and increase oversight and control. Clients range from Fusion Wealth, Schroders Personal Wealth and Tilney to private client investment managers like Veritas and Connor Broadley. 

Williams explains that the platform can work in different ways: “Firms can either work with SEI to consume the end to end service utilising the front-end portal through to investment processing or can choose to integrate with existing front office technology and functionality.” 

“Essentially, we are the engine that sits behind a firm’s wealth management proposition. We help clients manage costs, maximise opportunities and minimise risk. We are able to assist in minimising the time they spend on technology, regulation and operational issues and refocus the attention of the leadership on areas that will help them to grow and achieve their strategic objectives”

“Investment in technology is core to our business and we work with clients to maximise opportunities whilst also providing the infrastructure to support their regulatory compliance. This is an important factor for any larger institution that is looking to grow to a significant scale.” 

However, he adds that cultural fit is crucial. “We are looking for firms that have strong credentials as well as ambition to grow. Our overall aim is that wealth management firms have the ability to spend more time with their clients,” says Williams. 

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